Written by Oliver Roylance-Smith
15th March 2016

2016 ISA season selections – our Top 5 Investment ISAs

With well under a month to go, time is running out to maximise the valuable tax benefit of your ISA allowance before the deadline on 5th April 2016, otherwise it will be lost forever. This has already been a very busy ISA season, and with Cash ISA savings rates continuing at uninspiring levels, it is perhaps not surprising that last season’s rise in the number of Stocks & Shares ISAs is a continuing trend. With the need to review existing ISAs, as well as making sure any new ISA investments offer the opportunity for competitive returns, we bring you our most popular Investment ISAs.

Our Top 5 Selections

Below we have listed some of our most popular Investment ISA plans, featuring both income and growth investments. With income needs continuing to play a critical role for many investors, the attraction of having tax free income is understandable. Whilst for investors looking for growth, included are those plans which take a defensive view on the stock market, as well as investments with the opportunity to mature early or ‘kick out’. Our head of savings and investment, Oliver Roylance-Smith, also offers a Fair Investment view for each plan.

Your ISA allowance

The ISA allowance for the current tax year is £15,240, whilst all of the plans detailed below accept Cash ISA and Stocks & Shares ISA transfers. Each plan also offers a Double ISA option, whereby you can invest the current tax year ISA allowance and next tax year’s ISA allowance (2016/17 tax year ISA allowance is also £15,240) via one application form – thereby offering the opportunity to invest up to £30,480 into new ISAs. Please check the individual plan for further details and for any application deadlines that apply.

Potential for 11.50% annual growth

With the potential for double digit returns and the opportunity to mature early from year one onwards, the Investec Enhanced Kick Out Plan has been our best selling Investment ISA this year. The plan will return 11.50% annual growth (not compounded) provided the value of the FTSE 100 Index at the end of each year is higher than its value at the start of the plan (subject to averaging). Your initial capital is at risk if the Index falls by more than 50% during the term, and also finishes below its starting value, in which case your capital will be reduced by 1% for each 1% fall.

Fair Investment view: “Depending on your view of what will happen to the FTSE, the ability to achieve 11.50% annual growth, even if the Index stays relatively flat, perhaps helps to explain why this plan has proved so popular. The current issue also sees the highest potential return on offer from this plan since 2012, so if the combination of high growth returns, the ability to mature early, as well as some capital protection against a falling market sounds appealing, this might make for a compelling opportunity in the current investment climate.”

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Up to 7.50% annual income

The FTSE Quarterly Contingent Income Plan from Focus offers a quarterly payment of 1.75% during the plan if at the end of each quarter, the value of the FTSE 100 index has not fallen more than 25% from its value at the start of the plan. Therefore, the Index can fall up to 25% at the end of each quarter and you would still receive 7.50% annual income, but if the Index falls by more than this, no income would be paid for that quarter.

Your initial investment is returned at the end of the plan provided the FTSE has not fallen by more than 40%, measured at the end of the fixed term only. If it has fallen below this level, capital will be reduced by 1% for each 1% fall, so you could lose some or all of your initial investment.

Fair Investment view: “Those seeking income from their investments often put the potential yield and frequency of payments as their top priorities, so the headline yield of up to 7.50% is attractive and the cap on any income is balanced against the conditional capital protection thereby offering an attractive balance of risk v reward. It’s has been a while since we’ve been able to talk about the potential for up to 7.50% income from a plan based on the performance of the FTSE, and compared to other income alternatives available in the market, this plan could offer an attractive option.”

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5.28% fixed income each year

Our next plan is from Investec and is our best selling income investment this year, for both ISA and non-ISA investors. The current issue of the Enhanced Income Plan pays a fixed income of 5.28% per year, with monthly payments of 0.44% paid to you regardless of the performance of FTSE.  Capital is at risk if the FTSE falls by more than 50% during the investment term. If it does, and the Index also finishes below its starting level then your original capital will be reduced by 1% for each 1% fall, so you could lose some or all of your original investment.

Fair Investment view:One of the attractions of an ISA is that it allows income to be generated that would otherwise be subject to income tax, whilst the Enhanced Income Plan offers a high fixed income that is paid to you regardless of the performance of the stock market. Knowing exactly how much you will be paid, when and for how long are clearly features that could appeal, whilst the monthly payment frequency is usually the most sought after. The combination of a regular fixed income and a return of capital unless the FTSE 100 Index falls by more than 50%, could offer a competitive balance of risk versus reward that might be considered by both savers and investors.”

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36% return even if the FTSE falls up to 50%

Defensive plans offer investors a competitive return on their capital even if the stock market fails to go up. As a result, they have risen in popularity in the last few years and the recently launched Defensive Growth Plan from Investec is no exception. The plan offers a fixed return of 36%, provided the FTSE 100 Index at the end of the term, is more than half of its value at the start of the plan (subject to averaging). So the FTSE can fall up to 50% and you still receive a fixed growth return of 36%, equivalent to 5.25% compound annual growth. If the FTSE falls by 50% or more, no growth will be achieved and your initial capital will be reduced by 1% for each 1% fall, so you could lose some or all of your initial investment.

Fair Investment view: “Whilst the FTSE continues at what are still historically high levels, it is understandable why many investors are considering defensive investment plans and with a product headline of a 36% growth return unless the FTSE 100 Index falls by 50% or more, the risk versus reward of this plan is relatively easy to understand. So depending on your view of what might happen to the FTSE in the medium term, the ability to produce over 5% compound annual growth provided the market does not fall 50%, could make for an innovative investment opportunity.”

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Triple the rise in the FTSE above 80% of its starting value

Following this defensive theme is our most popular ‘supertracker’ plan, the FTSE Defensive Supertracker from Meteor. The ‘supertracker’ part means your investment tracks any growth in the FTSE 100 Index during the term of the plan and then triples it, whilst the plan is ‘defensive’ since this growth is based on any rise above 80% of the FTSE’s starting value. Therefore, provided the FTSE has not fallen by more than 20%, you will receive triple any growth, subject to a maximum return of 60%. Therefore, this maximum return is achieved provided the FTSE ends the same or higher than its value at the start of the plan.

If the FTSE has fallen by more than 20%, no growth will be paid and your original investment will be returned in full unless the FTSE has fallen by more than 40%. If it has, your capital will be reduced by 1% for each 1% fall, so you could lose some or all of your initial investment.

Fair Investment view: “For those investors concerned about the historically high level of the FTSE and would therefore like to include a defensive element to their investment, this plan offers the opportunity for investment level returns not only if the FTSE goes up, but also if it stays flat or even goes falls up to 20%. By combining this with some capital protection should the stock market fall, this plan could offer a compelling balance of risk versus reward for those who are not confident that the FTSE will rise significantly in the medium term.”

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Important reminder – why do an ISA?

One of the main reasons for using an ISA is it’s tax treatment since no tax is payable on the income you receive, or any capital gains that you make, and there is also no need to declare any ISA income or capital gains on your tax return. They therefore provide tax efficient income or growth on your investment, the benefit of which can be compounded over time. See our Top 10 Tips for ISA season for further help and tips on how to make the most from this important time of year. Please also note that with all of these investments, our experienced Investment Customer Services team is available on 0845 308 2525 to answer any questions you may have.

How to apply

When you click for more information on any of the above plans you will be able to request a brochure pack which will be sent to you by post and email. This will include everything you need to invest, whether applying for an ISA, transferring existing Cash ISAs and/or Stocks & Shares ISAs or making on-ISA investments. Also note that these plans have different application deadlines, and may also close early so it is important to submit your application as soon as possible. Minimum investments and arrangement fees also apply.

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No news, feature article or comment should be seen as a personal recommendation to invest. Prior to making any decision to invest, you should ensure that you are familiar with the risks associated with a particular investment. If you are at all unsure of the suitability of a particular investment, both in respect of its objectives and its risk profile, you should seek independent financial advice.

Tax treatment depends on your individual circumstances and is based on current law which may be subject to change in the future. Always remember to check whether any charges apply before transferring an ISA.

These are structured investment plans which are not capital protected and are not covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) for default alone. There is a risk of losing some or all of your initial investment. There is a risk that the company backing the plan or any company associated with the plan may be unable to repay your initial investment and any returns stated. In addition, you may not get back the full amount of your initial investment if the plan is not held for the full term. The past performance of the FTSE 100 Index is not a guide to its future performance.